Are you ready for a disaster? If you have 10 minutes to grab everything you need for the next two weeks and leave your house, would you be able to? What if Turtle Creek was flooded over Hwy. 140, Carvers Rock Road, Smith Road and so on? How would you go north of town?

You need to have plans in place if a police officer or firefighter knocks on your door and says “you must evacuate and leave NOW.” There are two things that local officials may ask you to do, one is shelter in place (the emergency requires you to stay inside).

The other is to evacuate your home or workplace and go to a shelter or some other place to stay. If you are directed to shelter in place, it could be from a hazardous chemical emergency occurring in your neighborhood. The most important thing to remember is to take action quickly.

During a hazardous chemical emergency, you should go inside and stay put. You can use your entire house or only a few rooms. Make sure you choose an area that has a telephone, water, a toilet, and someplace you can seal off easily. A bedroom is an excellent choice.

You must be able to do the following quickly so planning is important. First go inside, turn off heaters and air conditioners and close fireplace dampers. Close and seal all doors and windows, cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth if necessary. Listen to your radio or TV and wait for the all clear signal before you move outside.

“Be Aware and Prepare” by creating an emergency plan just like you do in the event of a fire, tornado or any other kind of emergency. Include in the plan the steps you will take to protect yourself and your family. Make a checklist of what needs to be done. Next, assign tasks.

Each person in the family should have a job for which they are capable and responsible. Add to the emergency kit you may already have for power outages. Inside, keep an updated emergency phone list that includes the phone numbers for a doctor, the closest emergency room, fire and police.

Also note the local TV channels and radio stations with frequent news broadcasts. Make sure your emergency kit includes the following: two rolls of duct tape, scissors, towels, drinking water, toilet supplies and any necessary medications, a portable battery operated radio, a flashlight, extra batteries and once again, your checklist. Store your emergency kit in a place you can get to quickly and easily.

Then rehearse by having emergency drills. Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Fires and floods cause evacuations most frequently across the U.S. and almost every year, people along coastlines evacuate as hurricanes approach.

In addition, hundreds of times a year, transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances, forcing many people to leave their homes. In some circumstances, local officials decide that the hazards are serious and require mandatory evacuations.

In others, evacuations are advised or households decide to evacuate to avoid situations they believe are potentially dangerous. When community evacuations become necessary local officials provide information to the public through the media.

In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens, text alerts, emails or telephone calls are used. The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. However, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead, is essential.

Plan how you will assemble your family and supplies and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency and know the evacuation routes to get to those destinations. There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave.

Follow these guidelines for evacuation: Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster. If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely.

Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.

Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather. Follow recommended evacuation routes.

Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked. Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated. Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions. Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency. If time allows:

Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going. Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows. Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances.

Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving. Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.

Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap. Check with neighbors who may need a ride. Much of this information along with lots of other emergency information can be found at the State of Wisconsin and Federal disaster websites.

Until next week, stay safe

Chief Rindfleisch